Ben Vu on Battle Bears' freemium debut and his 10 game roadmap for the humorous shooter franchise
Also pitching for TV series
But that's only the start CEO Ben Vu tell us, as he plans for 10 more games in the coming years, as well as a possible TV series.
PocketGamer: What was the thinking behind the release of Battle Bears Royale?
Ben Vu: Battle Bears Royale is SkyVu's first online multiplayer game. It's been in design since early 2010 but we wanted to make sure all the stars (more powerful devices, funding, and established fan base) were aligned to make sure it was a spectacular multiplayer experience unlike anything else on the App Store.
As mobile gamers, we simply weren't satisfied with the crop of multiplayer shooters out there and believed we could bring something really fun, simple, and action-packed to the market.
Some people have described Battle Bears Royale as Team Fortress 2 meets Duke Nukem 3D meets iPhone, which I think is a fair assessment.
Why did you choose to get involved with Recharge Studios and how did that help the development and launch process?
Battle Bears Royale is SkyVu's first official freemium game and we needed the freemium expertise and financial support of Recharge Studios to accelerate the development of the game.
With Recharge's support, we were able to enlist extra development firepower from our partner studio Complex Games and get the game done in time for the Holidays. Recharge has been instrumental in helping us analyse the data that came in from our test markets and making sure our virtual economy was perfectly tuned.
Marketing is vital for freemium games so what was your strategy?
Working with Recharge, we've partnered with several key partners to market the game including, W3i [owner of Recharge], OpenFeint, and FreeAppADay.com.
We're also finding that as our Battle Bears' fan base grows - approximately 100,000+ downloads per week prior to Battle Bears Royale's release - that our push notifications and Facebook fan page are very strong marketing channels.
With 14 million Battle Bear games downloaded, what are your plans for building out the franchise?
The Battle Bearsbrand is very special in that it has attracted millions of casual gamers and hardcore gamers. Surprisingly, our Facebook fan base is 40 percent female and 60 percent male.
Our roadmap consists of ten games through 2015, with half being casual shooters which are story-based (with our signature cut scenes), and the other half being multiplayer shooters similar to Battle Bears Royale.
We're also expanding our brand licensing operations and we're currently in talks with several animation studios to make the Battle Bears TV series. I'm headed out to Hollywood next week, so wish us luck!
Are there any obvious difference between the iOS and Android audience?
Currently, the iOS audience definitely expects a higher level of production quality and is willing to pay for quality content, while the Android audience is more forgiving of fragmentation quirks.
When Battle Bears Royale comes to Android in Q1 2012, it will have true cross-platform gameplay between iOS and Android users. At that point, we'll be able to fully compare the spending trends of each audience.
Are there any particular demographics/countries that are core for Battle Bears?
The USA, UK, Canada and Australia continue to be our strongest markets. The brand also does well in China, Korea, Singapore, India, and Mexico where they call it Los Osos Battallos. We have plans to fully localise our games for these emerging markets.
What's next for SkyVu?
Our team has grown to 14 employees and we're preparing to move into our new 4,000 square foot facility next to the University of Nebraska, which provides us much needed space to expand the teams.
In addition to continually updating Battle Bears Royale, we're working on Battle Bears Zero for iOS and Android (Q1 2012). We're also working on some exciting technologies that will allow our players to socialise and compete in all SkyVu games.
We're experiencing significant growth and we're exploring ways to further accelerate our organic growth.
Thanks to Ben for his time.